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Put Your Own Mask on First: The Women’s Guide to Self-Love

The Airline Safety Video

Flying a lot means watching airline safety videos on a regular basis. You know the one—both boring and essential. And the airlines know it is both boring and important so to entice us to watch it, some airlines use comedy while others take a more theatrical approach, making it a production. Though the information is always the same, one line sticks with me every time I watch this video, “Secure your mask before helping others.” When I hear this, I realize it applies to how most women handle themselves and others in their lives—we put everyone else’s mask on first. The problem is, at 35,000 feet, you have 15-30 seconds of breathable air and clarity to put your own mask on to save your life so you can save others. When we put everyone else’s mask on first, we die.

Most of the women I know tend to take care of others before they take care of themselves—and then, at the end of the day, there’s no time or energy left for self-care, which is the same as self-love. This is out of balance for others and for ourselves. We end up depleted, unhappy, and unwell. And yet we continue doing the same thing over and over—ignoring the intuitive, authentic self who is screaming for balance.

Many women I’ve talked to about this subject say it is counterintuitive to help themselves first. They tell me they would put their child’s mask on and then put their mask on. But this goes against the very thing that saves not only the woman’s life, but also her child’s life—self-care. The belief that women are here to make certain others are cared for first comes from training, not authenticity. Sure, there are some innate instincts to care for others in mothers and women in general, but not when done to our detriment. It is time to become aware of the truth and then correct our ineffective, detrimental beliefs.

Many women are driven to care for others to the woman’s detriment out of guilt. Women often feel guilty if their mother, father, partner, children, or co-workers aren’t happy and healthy. Guilt isn’t instinct—it’s poor training. It is not the job of any person to make another person happy. In fact, it is not possible to make others happy. They, like us, are responsible for making themselves happy. When we allow each person to be responsible for their own happiness, balance returns, for them and us.

When we are authentic, meaning we listen to our soul self or true self, we take care of ourselves first and then take care of others. This is balance, not selfishness, as many women have been taught to believe. By taking care of ourselves first, we express and experience self-love. Self-love is the key to expressing and experiencing love for others, including our partners and our children. How can we know what true love is for others if we don’t know it for ourselves?

This History of Women

Years ago, I spoke at a large women’s business meeting. The first question I asked was, “How many of you take care of everyone but yourselves?” Every single lady in the room raised her hand. Shocking? Not really, especially when we look at the history of women, how we have been treated and what we have been taught to believe about ourselves. Society has hardly, if ever, been supportive of women caring for themselves. Talking about this isn’t meant to blame men or even society. It is meant to bring to the surface old, incorrect and detrimental programming that does not work for any of us. Awareness brings change. With change comes balance, joy and vitality. This is every woman’s birthright.

For centuries, women have been told they should be seen and not heard, they are the weaker sex, they don’t deserve equal pay for equal qualifications for the same job, and that they should take care of men and children. There is no training or support for self-care. Women are taught their “place” in the world. Again, this is training, not truth.  

Society has had a hefty part to play in seeing women as the nurturing sex—the ones who must take care of others. This is also out of balance. There are many men who are great at nurturing, but men are not allowed to be nurturing as it is seen as a sign of weakness. What a load of crap. Perhaps this is one of the reasons men have heart attacks—from the constant denial of something that is natural and connecting, that is loving and united with the heart. Cutting off this direct line of love for men starves the heart meridian, a major path to love in the body. When starved, it eventually breaks down.

Outcomes of Self-Love

One outcome of taking care of ourselves first is that others treat us better. People treat us the way we treat ourselves. When we allow others to deplete us, it is because we are depleting ourselves. By contrast, when we make it a priority to care for ourselves first, we set the stage for how others treat us. Self-respect happens automatically. The respect of others also returns.

Another outcome of putting your own mask on first is that women gain control of their lives. Women often feel they know what is best for others. These expectations of how others have to be and the belief that we are the ones who can make them better—is exhausting and a complete misuse of precious energy we need for our own self-care. It creates unnecessary drama and confusion. Trying to run everyone’s life makes us feel out of control. Give up expectations. Stop thinking you know how every else should live. Let people live their lives and you live yours. This is how control and balance return.

Most of us believe the opinions of others about how we look, how we’re doing in life and more. When we focus on ourselves first, other people’s opinions aren’t important anymore and our ideas about ourselves, the ones connected to our authentic self, become more important. This allows us to be who we really are. Stop clinging to the opinions of others and seeking their approval for anything in your life. They know nothing of who you truly are and what you really want. Take back control of your life and listen to your inner self, your intuition. This is your divine guidance. When you merge with this one, health and happiness return.

Finally, the truly compassionate, kind and loving person you are returns. As we treat ourselves with loving-kindness, we treat others the same way. When we put others first, resentment, moaning and groaning and unhappiness are daily fare. That’s because it’s unnatural to give to others more than we give to ourselves. And we are doing so because of incorrect, trained beliefs that don’t match who we truly are. What else could come of such a situation except resentment and unhappiness? However, when we love ourselves in a caring way, we are able to express that towards others. This is normal!

Taking care of yourself first means balance returns to your life. This also means that anything out of balance must brought into balance or must be left behind. Relationships may change, your career choices may be different, and your friends may shift—some stay, others go. This is okay. When women make themselves a priority, life shifts from how it was when women made everyone else a priority. It can’t be any different. This is progress.

When women make self-love a priority, there might be a lot of noise from the peanut gallery. The kids might wonder why they have to make their own breakfast, our partners might wonder why they have to rescue themselves from a problem they are used to us solving and our friends might wonder why we don’t listen to them drone on about the same thing over and over anymore. Others need to begin doing things for themselves. Doing so is empowering to every person concerned—especially women.

Women have the power to transform the entire planet to a more loving, kinder and healthier place to live. But, first we must do this for ourselves. Take a step today towards self-love. Let go of an unhealthy, unbalanced expectation of yourself and others. Re-write your story and align it with who you really are and what you really want in life. You can do it. You deserve nothing less.


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